Undiagnosed ADHD Spouse...and Type A

I see myself in so many posts here. I finally feel like I'm not alone....and maybe things are not THAT bad. Still, at the moment, I feel like I'm at the end of my rope; however, I know that it will pass...but not without lasting damage.

My husband and I have been together for 4 years; married 2 1/2. He is the generous, funny, hard-working, helps around the house, very loving and kind. People love him and say that we are an awesome couple...so in love....and that we are lucky to have each other. I hate to complain, because 70-80% of the time, things are fabulous....and then a bit of stress comes our way or a difference in opinion, and it all goes south. I go through stretches of "walking on eggshells" and avoiding him in order to keep things peaceful. He is a Type A personality and is anything but lazy and disorganized, yet he has some extremely strong behaviors that lead me to believe that ADHD may be the main culprit: 

  • Quick temper - Overreacts and is quick to criticize every little thing I do. Easily turns into "rages", breaks/hits things (but never me)
  • Very critical of others, easily annoyed. However, he puts on a "face" and people think he's great, while he critcizes behind their back
  • Was on Ritalin as a child; was always in trouble growing up
  • Pot user - Uses it moderately on a weekly (I believe) basis. I really have a hard time telling he's using. I believe he is self medicating to slow his mind down. He claims that he started being "less of an asshole" when he started smoking it when he was 20 (he's now 38)
  • Mind races - never stops. He has told me this many times.
  • Always on-the-go - tons of energy, can't "do nothing" or just relax> No one can keep up with him. 

The biggest issue of all of these is his critical nature/temper. It's unbearable. I find myself agreeing with him just to keep the peace. He is extremely opinionated (it's black or white...never gray), and if he is in any way challenged, he just won't let it go (mainly with me and his close friends). If something goes wrong, he generally finds a way to point a finger at me. Rather than trying to solve the problem or take reasonability for his part, he twists everything to be my fault. He has zero tolerance for anything outside of his realm of thinking or for any type of "failure". Yet, if he makes a mistake, it's a different story. He comes across as very condescending....which really pisses me off. I am so careful not to "damage" his ego by putting him down (even when he messes up), yet he does it to me over trivial things.

When things are good, though, I can do no wrong. I am amazing and he can't tell me enough how much he love and appreciates me.

When I first met him, he was smoking pot quite a bit (yet, still very productive, good job, etc.). I couldn't even tell he was a little high/buzzed. He actually had to tell me that it was something he did. I was not okay with that and he promised to quit. Now, four years later, he has cut back significantly, but has never full quit for more than a month or two. It still bothers me that he does it (behind my back), but I've learned to more or less let it go. Plus, he is so much easier to get along with when he "self medicates". The problem is, it's roller coaster ride. He can't be high all the time. So, when he goes without, I suspect the withdrawal brings his Type A and ADHD tendencies to the surface. I also know he feel guilty and shameful that he hasn't/can't quit and than he also can't quit cigarettes. Sometimes I think his critical nature is a way of projecting his shame on others.

I know I am not a perfect person or wife. I don't want to blame everything on him. Marital issues are a two-way street. However, I highly suspect that there is something bigger going on here. The ADHD seems to make a bit of sense of his behavior. The blaming, finger-pointing, and overreacting to every little "issue" is just not normal. It weights heavily on my state-of-mind (depressing) and my self-confidnence. Is it an anger management issue? Or, is the anger part of the ADHD?


The rage attacks and flare

The rage attacks and flare ups usually happened more often after a weekend of smoking weed. When he's smoking, he slows down to a crawl in front of the television. I think it acts like a depressant so he behaves sort of apathetic and a bit nondescript. He insists there's no withdrawal but I can tell whatever slowed his mind down on the weekends, made him race even more coming out of it at the beginning of the following week.

my two cents

I am definitely not an expert, but in layman's terms my perception is that a) every drug alters the chemistry of your brain, including pot, cigarettes, caffeine, adderall, and anti-depressants-- so it makes sense that if your body it used to a drug, then when you stop, your body asks "hey, what the heck?!" and one symptom can definitely be irritability. A friend told me the worst week of her life was she stopped smoking--she was so sick and irritable she couldn't go to work one day. I got the flu and went without coffee for two days, and finally realized my killer headache was from that--and boy, it made me irritable. There is information that supports your theory about those with ADHD, etc. self-medicating.  

I let lots of things "go," which was in the guise of compromising for marriage. Only you can know if you are really ok with it and it is truly a compromise. I realized down the road that I had let so many things "go" over the years, due to his controlling and defensive personality, that suddenly I was married to someone that I never would have spent my life with. Huge things, that really mattered to me--yelling at me in front of other people, etc. Just as I was starting to panic, I found out about ADHD and the anger connection. While it can explain things, I unfortunately allowed it to function as an excuse for a while there---and to me, there is not excuse for this type of anger not being addressed or managed. My kids had to see it. 

Anger and rage, outbursts, etc. are not issues for everyone with ADHD but from these boards, there is certainly a component for the adult ADHD-affected population. Can you study as much as you can about it? Try to work on it early--mine with my spouse got so bad (anger, then verbal and emotional abuse and almost constant outbursts, along with blaming and overreacting and defensiveness) that we were not able to work on it at all, and we are separating. It just about killed my mental health. Of course marriage and issues are a two-way street, and the thing you can do for yourself is take care of yourself and what you can control. Can you get advice from a counselor? 

It's good that you are telling the truth, because I hid it for a long time, but: be careful with the spouse breaking things in rages. Mind did it, too, and I always "let it go" because it wasn't a person. Let's just say it can escalate pretty quickly.